There’s a specific group of men who are ‘very online’—each is active on X/Twitter, hosts a podcast, and has a wildly successful email newsletter—whom I think of as ‘productivity bros.’ This is not meant to be pejorative; I like and admire these men and I subscribe to their newsletters. Mostly they talk and tweet about how to be more productive and successful. They do not all have engineering or coding backgrounds, but they seem to have the brain wiring and personality traits of engineers I know.
They are experts on how to develop better habits. They care about identifying best practices, implementing systems for greater efficiency, and using mental models for improved decision-making.
All have bestselling books (business non-fiction) and are self-made multi-millionaires. (They did not inherit their wealth.)
If you too are ‘very online’ you might know who I’m talking about. If not, good for you. Maybe you aren’t as obsessed with productivity as I am. Maybe you’re already productive, because you’re not spending all your time reading about how to be more productive. Which is the point of this story.
Recently I’ve been wondering why, after all this time, I keep opening these guys’ email newsletters.
The answer: Because of their irresistible headlines, great insights, and brilliant tweetable quotes. These guys are constantly dropping diamonds and I don’t want to miss out.
But what’s interesting is, you can’t possibly remember all of their brilliant quotes and wise words. You can’t hold all of the great insights in your head every day to act on them, to benefit from them.
All of the brilliant insights and wise words don’t make me smarter and better. They make me anxious.
They make me feel like I’ve got to have an edge. Get ahead of the pack. FOCUS, OPTIMIZE, MAXIMIZE, LEVERAGE, STAND OUT, RISE.
Rather than helping me be more productive or successful, they’ve been a grand distraction.
Surely the reason so many other people subscribe to these email newsletters is because, like me, they are concerned if they don’t read them, they’ll miss out on the genius that could cause them to be wildly successful.
But actually, the most ‘genius’ thing a person can do is shut out distractions and do the work that matters most to them.
Which the productivity guys would be the first to tell you.
Reading several email newsletters a week/day to hear this advice framed in a thousand different ways is of course a form of resistance to doing the work.
I’m embarrassed it has taken me so long to tap out.